eNASCAR Coke: Michael Guest scores maiden victory, 2023 Playoffs set

Justin Melillo
Michael Guest scored his first career win at Pocono Raceway on Tuesday. The 10-driver eNASCAR Playoff field is now officially set.

Following an absolute slugfest at Pocono Raceway on Tuesday night (1st August), the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Regular Season is finally over and the 10 drivers that will race for a championship have been decided. Seven of them were confirmed heading in, but there were still a few more spots to be decided.

The final three tickets were up for grabs at Pocono Raceway. Nick Ottinger (William Byron Esports) and Jimmy Mullis (Rise Esports) both managed to hold on to the tickets they held coming into the night. As for the last ticket, Michael Guest (23XI Racing) would score the upset, holding off Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) for the win, the first of his career in 106 starts.

Taking two tires and staying out late in the running, Guest was able to take the lead from Garrett Lowe (Jim Beaver Esports) before a late caution sent the race into eNASCAR Overtime. Ottinger would get below Guest out of the final corner to take the white flag, but after a wild final lap, Guest was able to hang on through the chaos.

Guest: “I knew I had a chance tonight”

The final chance to dance, Pocono Raceway would serve as the 2023 eNASCAR Regular Season finale with three more spots to fill in the 2023 Playoffs by nights end.

Jimmy Mullis held a spot with a win, but he’d need to finish the night inside the Top 20 in points. Nick Ottinger had a spot too with a ton of points and only one driver who could pass him if there was a new winner. That driver was Graham Bowlin (Charlotte Phoenix), who held the final spot as the 60-lap event began.

Ottinger took the pole position, but it was his William Byron Esports teammate Matt Bussa who took the point early on. Bussa led the opening 34 laps, but following pit stops, he would be playing catch up for the rest of the night.

Three drivers opted for two tires on their pit stop, including Parker White (Kanaan Esports), Collin Bowden (eRacr) and Michael Guest. White led that field of drivers, but there was an even crazier strategy in play ahead of that.

Up front, Michael Cosey Jr (Front Row Motorsports) and Garrett Lowe were looking to possibly stretch their fuel a few extra laps than what most considered possible. They had pitted around Lap 15, which meant if it went green, they would be about five laps short running normally.

Unfortunately for most of the off-strategy calls, we didn’t get to see how it panned out as a caution flew with 12 laps to go. The remainder of the race fell under yellow fever, but by the time the race would have normally ended, Guest was in front with a chance to make the playoffs in sight.

The final restart came on Lap 66, as the race would be extended an extra seven laps for two bouts of eNASCAR Overtime. Into the final corner, it was Guest and Malik Ray (Jim Beaver Esports) up top and the William Byron Esports duo of Ottinger and Bussa on the bottom.

Bussa gave a huge shot to the back end of Ottinger, getting his teammate lose and handing the momentum to Guest. As Ottinger, Ray and Bussa collected themselves coming to the line, it was Guest scoring his first career win and taking the final place in the 2023 Playoffs.

Race 14 at Pocono Raceway – Top 10 Results

13245Michael Guest23XI Racing67 LAPS940
2357Malik RayJim Beaver Esports+0.183 secs135
3341Dylan DuvalStewart-Haas Racing+0.329 secs034
4125Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports+0.337 secs133
5497Matt BussaWilliam Byron Esports+0.366 secs3432
6171Darik BourdeauElliott Sadler Esports+0.478 secs031
71511Parker WhiteKanaan Esports+0.595 secs030
82969Collin BowdeneRacr+0.660 secs029
92377Ryan DoucettePittsburgh Knights+1.067 secs028
102195Casey KirwanXSET+1.492 secs027

Who made the Playoffs? Who didn’t?

The 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series playoffs will feature 10 drivers, nine of which have won this season and one of which scored more points than anyone else without a win.

Entering the night, Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing), Michael Conti (JR Motorsports), Casey Kirwan (XSET), Tucker Minter (Team Dillon Esports), Jordy Lopez (Team Dillon Esports), Steven Wilson (Stewart-Haas Racing) and Garrett Lowe were all locked in with having a win and having enough points over 21st in points.

Jimmy Mullis also had a win, but only had a six point gap over falling outside the Top 20. A win gets a driver in, but only if they are in the Top 20 by the end of the Regular Season. Mullis finished 16th, and that was enough to place him inside the Top 20 by nine points over 21st to lock him in as the eighth driver.

With Guest’s win, that made him the ninth entry, and that meant that one single spot would come down to total points on the season. Nick Ottinger had a 27 point lead over Graham Bowlin, and in the case where Mullis made it and there was a new winner locked in, he would just need a Top 25 or so to clinch. OttiBoss finished fourth.

Bowlin would have every worst case scenario befall him on Tuesday night. Ottinger was stout, Guest was a new winner, Mullis made his way in, and to top it all off, Driver 48 was collected in a last lap incident which took him way out of contention.

Bowlin was actually passed by Malik Ray by the end of the night, the runner-up to Guest at The Tricky Triangle. Ray was the first man out, 49 points behind Ottinger, a gap that was insurmountable coming in. Bowlin, along with Matt Bussa, Parker White and Michael Cosey Jr were all in a position to point in three races ago. Now, they’re all fighting to stave off relegation for the remainder of the season.

Playoff re-seeding entering 2023 eNASCAR Playoffs

118Bobby ZalenskiJoe Gibbs Racing1009+6336
28Michael ContiJR Motorsports1006+3278
395Casey KirwanXSET1006+3257
433Tucker Minter [R]Team Dillon Esports1006+3256
53Jordy Lopez Jr [R]Team Dillon Esports1003-3136
610Steven WilsonStewart-Haas Racing1003-3125
715Garrett LoweJim Beaver Esports1003-3136
845Michael Guest23XI Racing1003-3125
946Jimmy MullisRise Esports1003-3134
1025Nick OttingerWilliam Byron Esports1000-6058

Team Title lead changes hands

Even though the two teammates tangled on the final corner of the final lap, William Byron Esports walked out of Long Pond, Pennsylvania with the Team Championship points lead, now 23 points ahead of Team Dillon Esports after entering the night 24 points back.

The Jim Beaver Esports pairing moves into third around JR Motorsports, while the defending champions at Stewart-Haas Racing sit in fifth.

23XI Racing scored the most points at Pocono, however, a total of 66 with the win by Guest and an 11th place effort from Keegan Leahy. Leahy misses the Driver’s Playoffs for the second straight season after winning a title in 2021, but now only 147 points back, he and Guest could still surmount a late team title charge in these last four races.

Team Standings after Race 14 at Pocono Raceway

125 | 97William Byron Esports6790715
23 | 33Team Dillon Esports656-233812
37 | 15Jim Beaver Esports615-641914
48 | 88JR Motorsports611-68278
510 | 41Stewart-Haas Racing600-791410
611 | 66Tony Kanaan Esports551-128028
723 | 4523XI Racing532-147147
834 | 38Front Row Motorsports516-163028
946 | 75Rise Esports459-220146
1043 | 48Charlotte Phoenix446-233049
XSET: P11, 2 wins | Joe Gibbs Racing: P13, 3 wins

Pocono Raceway – Box Score

  • Seven cautions for 21 laps in 67 completed laps (+7 in eNASCAR Overtime)
  • Six lead changes among six drivers
  • Pole sitter: No. 25 Nick Ottinger (53.317 secs)
  • Most laps led: No. 97 Matt Bussa (34 laps led)
  • Lap Leaders:
    • #25 Nick Ottinger (pole)
    • #97 Matt Bussa (1-34)
    • #7 Malik Ray (35)
    • #38 Michael Cosey Jr (36-49)
    • #15 Garrett Lowe (50-57)
    • #45 Michael Guest (58-65)
    • #25 Nick Ottinger (66)
    • #45 Michael Guest (67)
  • Fastest lap: No. 41 Dylan Duval (Lap 40, 53.391 secs)
  • Hard charger: No. 7 Malik Ray (Started 35th, Finished 2nd | +33 spots)
  • Hard luck: No. 14 Joey Brown (Started 9th, Finished 39th | -30 spots)
  • Fewest incidents: #41 Dylan Duval (0x, Finished 3rd)
  • Most incidents: No. 23 Keegan Leahy (16x, Finished 11th)
  • Rookie of the race: No. 11 Parker White (7th Place)
  • Team of the race: No. 23 / No. 45 – 23XI Racing (66 points, 1st and 11th)
  • Winning Club: Indiana

Up Next: The Playoffs begin at Michigan

eNCCiS: Matt Bussa Walks Off, Wins Into 2021 Playoffs at Michigan

In two weeks, the complexion of the 2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series season changes to championship racing as well as racing to be above the relegation line for everyone else. Michigan is up first, a track that returns to the calendar for the first time since 2021 when it was won by Matt Bussa.

Things will kick off with the eNASCAR Countdown to Green, now presented by Wendy’s, which begins at 8:30 p.m. EDT / 1:30 a.m. BST. The race itself starts at 9:00 p.m. EDT / 2:00 a.m. BST. Evan Posocco, Blake McCandless, Alan Cavanna, Camille Salazar Hadaway and James Pike are expected to be on the call.

The 60-lap event broadcast will be available at eNASCAR.com/live or on the iRacing social channels.

2023 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Schedule

CLASH31-JaneNASCAR Clash at the LA Coliseum | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN20/40/70
114-FebDaytona International Speedway | Winner: TUCKER MINTER80
228-FebThe Milwaukee Mile | Winner: MICHAEL CONTI100
314-MarAtlanta Motor Speedway | Winner: STEVEN WILSON100
428-MarRichmond Raceway | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI130
511-AprAutodromo Nazionale Monza | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI30
618-AprTalladega Superspeedway | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN70
72-MayLas Vegas Motor Speedway | Winner: MICHAEL CONTI100
816-MayDarlington Raceway | Winner: CASEY KIRWAN120
930-MayCharlotte Motor Speedway | Winner: TUCKER MINTER100
1013-JunWorld Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway | Winner: JORDY LOPEZ120
1127-JunChicago Street Course | Winner: BOBBY ZALENSKI40
1211-JulNashville Superspeedway | Winner: JIMMY MULLIS100
1325-JulNew Hampshire Motor Speedway | | Winner: GARRETT LOWE101
141-AugPocono Raceway | Winner: MICHAEL GUEST60
15 – PO115-AugMichigan International Speedway60
16 – PO229-AugDover Motor Speedway120
17 – PO312-SepPhoenix Raceway120
18 – C426-SepHomestead-Miami Speedway100
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